I want to start things off by flashing back to January of this year. I was pretty much done with competitive Magic, having started school and sold off the bulk of my collection. Then the PTQ season for Nagoya came up, and I thought to myself, “why not?” I proceeded to 0–2–drop a PTQ in Toronto with a Cedric Phillips special. I was almost going to skip the PTQ in Kitchener, but I got invited to visit my friend who had just moved there for pharmacy school, so I figured I might as well play. GerryT endorsed a U/G Scapeshift deck created by Rookie of the Year frontrunner Matthias Hunt, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Unlike PT: Amsterdam, testing for Nagoya was going to be relatively simple. There are only so many cards in the format, and I have the benefit of MTGO and Magic League to see what decks are doing well. My favorite decks in testing were either the U/B no-artifact control decks sporting Neurok Commando, or the U/B or U/B/w Tezzeret decks. However, I found that beating Tempered Steel was very difficult, so I abandoned them. I had been impressed with mono-Red from playing against it, as a turn-three Koth spells doom for any control deck. And so, I began testing and refining a mono-Red list as soon as I had access to the New Phyrexia spoiler. The core of the deck is basically the following cards:
- Kuldotha Phoenix
- Oxidda Scrapmelter
- Koth of the Hammer
- Red Sun's Zenith
- Volt Charge
- Galvanic Blast
- Sphere of the Suns
There are a bunch of other cards that you can play or not play, but the cards listed above are the really necessary ones.
After quite a bit of deliberating, I settled on the following seventy-five the night before the PT:
3 Oxidda Scrapmelter
4 Kuldotha Phoenix
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Karn Liberated
4 Koth of the Hammer
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Volt Charge
2 Red Sun's Zenith
4 Shrine of Burning Rage
4 Sphere of the Suns
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Vulshok Refugee
4 Into the Core
3 Arc Trail
1 Wurmcoil Engine
The Vulshok Refugees were kind of last-minute tech. They were apparently the worst-kept secret ever, because they were almost impossible to find at the site, since no one thought to bring them. I lent my lone copy to Adam Yurchick so he could go around asking every Japanese player he could find if they had them. He managed to get four of them, so I decided to do the same thing, but Adam had pretty much cleaned everyone out. I did find a nice chap who was in an eight-man draft who had one in his deck and was willing to give it to me when he was done. I even had the following conversation with someone looking to trade:
“You have any Inkmoth Nexuses?”
“You have any Vulshok Refugees? I’ll trade you straight-up.”
“Dammit, I don’t.”
Luckily, once we got back to our hotel room, we were able to find more of them.
Round 1 vs. Max Tietze [USA] 166th
Max and I last battled at GP: Flash Hulk, where we both needed to 6–0 Day 2 to make Top 8. He accomplished this feat, and was the lone loss I suffered that day. I have a report somewhere on the Internets with more details if you’re interested. This time, Max was running Tempered Steel, so I felt pretty good about the matchup. In Game 1, I had a decent start with double Phoenix and some removal, but he played double Tempered Steel, and I was forced to start chumping. Turns out you lose the games when they play double Tempered Steel.
Game 2, the Rack and Ruin plan got going, and my sideboarded Dismember took care of his Hero of Bladehold. Wurmcoil Engine showed up and got a hit in while I played a second one. Max played his third artifact and was able to Dispatch both my gigantic lifelinkers, but I still had all these Phoenixes.
Game three, I took some early beats, but then swept his board away with a Slagstorm on turn 3. Oxidda Scrapmelter took care of his follow-up. I had a bit of a brain fart when I intended to attack with the Kuldotha Phoenix in my hand and leaving my Oxidda Scrapmelter back to block, but I declared attacks without actually playing out the Phoenix.
“I guess this Phoenix is playing defense now.”
I played out a second Phoenix on my following turn and turned all my guys sideways. I was dead to the counterattack, and if he didn’t block, he’d be at 2. I had Galvanic Blast in my hand at the ready to either go to the dome or clean up any of his remaining creatures, depending on whether he blocked. He tanked for a bit and decided not to block, telling me afterward that his only hope was that I didn’t notice that he had lethal damage. I showed him the Shock and offered up the handshake.
Round 2 vs. Mattia Rizzi [ITA] 233rd
Mattia was sporting the Italian B/R deck that you may have seen in the coverage. He was also sporting the tightest pants in the room. Game 1, I basically crushed him, as I played double Shrine of Burning Rage on turn three, following up with a Kuldotha Phoenix that ate a couple removal spells since I had Metalcraft going to rebuy it. I drew a Koth and decided to play it since I had a Volt Charge. He didn’t draw an answer and scooped to Koth’s ultimate with a Shrine ticking up.
Game 2, my opponent stabilized at 3 life and started beating me down with my own Koth that he had Praetor's Counseled for earlier. I failed to find a burn spell and promptly died.
Game 3 was hilarious. He stabilized at 6 life with a Karn Liberated in play. Turns out that’s a good card. I had outs, namely Red Sun's Zenith or my own Karn; however, I bricked long enough for him to fire off Karn’s ultimate. We restarted the game and he got to start with a Koth and two Mountains. I took 4 immediately, and had a Dismember for his second attack. I tried desperately to keep Koth off his ultimate and ran my Inkmoth Nexus into open mana, but he had a removal spell. Mattia was missing land drops by this point, and decided against popping his Koth to just continue the beatdown. If I could play my own Koth, I stood a decent chance to actually win the game since my hand was all gas. I drew Koth and played my third mana source. My opponent untapped and played Despise.
I didn’t draw a second Koth on my turn and died. And that’s my story of how I almost beat Karn’s ultimate.
Round 3 vs. Bryan Hawley [USA] 154th
My opponent was a nice chap from Utah. We chatted for a bit about our respective PTQs and soon got down to business. I unfortunately don’t have much to write about here, as other than lands, the only cards I saw him play in two games were Copper Myr and Master Splicer. I just killed him too fast.
Round 4 vs. Daniel Graefensteiner [DEU] 15th
You might recognize my opponent from the Top 8 for PT: San Diego. I didn’t know this at the time, so I just mentally referred to him as ZE GERMAN. Daniel was running Tempered Steel, so I was pretty comfortable playing against him. Not to say that I have an auto-win against this deck, but I feel that I have a decent matchup; at the very least, I play-tested a lot against it, so I’m familiar with the common lines of play.
Game 1, I drew my miser’s Wurmcoil Engine and after wiping his board with a Slagstorm, I offered a trade with his 4/4 Chimeric Mass. He took me up on it, but wasn’t able to recover from my card advantage.
Game 2, I Rack and Ruined him into oblivion.
Round 5 vs. Toshiyuki Kadooka [JPN] 2nd
I don’t have much to report about this match. He just had the superior mono-Red deck, and I couldn’t get much of anything going against him. My sideboarded Vulshok Refugees were nowhere to be found in Game 2.
You may recall from my PT: Amsterdam report (which I highly recommend you read if you haven’t already), that I had a few goals going into that tournament. To quote myself:
- Win a goddamn match.
- Don’t be out of contention for Day 2 before the draft.
- Make Day 2.
- Make money.
- Make Top 50.
I hit Goals 1 and 2, so I was determined to make Day 2 instead of scrubbing out like last time. Unlike Amsterdam, I would only need to 2–1 the draft. Up until Nagoya, I had never actually had a positive record in a professional-level draft. The best I’d ever done in a draft pod at a Nationals/GP/PT was 1–2, so I had my work cut out for me. Prior to arriving in Japan, I had yet to win a match in NMS limited, so I wasn’t exactly confident in my draft skills. While I was durdling around, I made a point of finding Matthias Hunt to say hello since we’d never met. “I owe you one handshake. I won with your deck.” We chatted for a bit, and eventually the pod assignments were posted for the first draft:
Draft Pod 1
|81||Mihara, Makihito [JPN]||9||66.66%|
|82||Ketita, Nassim [CAN]||9||64.00%|
|83||Faeder, Dustin [USA]||9||64.00%|
|84||Tuomi, Sami [FIN]||9||64.00%|
|85||Watsfeldt, Elias [SWE]||9||64.00%|
|86||Duke, Reid [USA]||9||64.00%|
|87||Tasaki, Ryo [JPN]||9||64.00%|
|88||Slone, Ted [CAN]||9||64.00%|
The only person I recognized was MTGO ringer and SCG writer Reid Duke. My draft started out with me first picking a Tormenter Exarch and then being passed a Volt Charge. I got a couple Forced Worships after that, so I was pretty sure I was going to be R/W. Late in Pack 1, I was deciding between a Loxodon Convert and Carmen Sandiego, otherwise known as Vulshok Refugee. It was just sitting there, laughing at me. The day before I was willing to trade an Inkmoth Nexus straight-up for one, and now here it was mocking me. I took it out of spite with full intentions to put it in my Constructed deck. Pack 2, I opened Slagstorm, further cementing both the “draft Red” and the “draft cards for my Constructed deck” plans. The rest of my picks were straightforward. In Pack 3, I took a Galvanic Blast over a Strata Scythe and never regretted it. Scythe is good and all, but I’d rather take a card for my Constructed deck. That’s four cards in this draft, if you’ve been keeping track. This is what I registered:
"Draft Deck 1"
- Creatures (14)
- 1 Goblin Wardriver
- 1 Loxodon Partisan
- 1 Razor Hippogriff
- 1 Tormenter Exarch
- 1 Vulshok Heartstoker
- 1 Vulshok Refugee
- 2 Ogre Resister
- 1 Bladed Sentinel
- 1 Blinding Souleater
- 1 Kiln Walker
- 1 Saberclaw Golem
- 2 Phyrexian Hulk
- Spells (9)
- 1 Divine Offering
- 1 Galvanic Blast
- 1 Shatter
- 1 Volt Charge
- 1 Slagstorm
- 2 Forced Worship
- 1 Heavy Arbalest
- 1 Trigon of Rage
Honestly, I thought my deck was really bad and that I would need luck to be on my side in order to pull out a 2–1. The card quality in the packs was poor, so I had to hope that everyone else’s deck was a little bit worse.
Round 6 vs. Ted Slone [CAN] 157th
Ted is a fellow Canadian who has a bit of an opposite story to mine. He’s originally from Eastern Canada and moved to Alberta for school. I’m originally from Alberta and moved to Eastern Canada for school. Huh.
Ted had a decent-looking U/W flyers deck, but unbeknownst to him, I had Slagstorm in my opening hand Game 1, which I slow-rolled to the last possible moment. I waited until I was at 3 life before pulling the trigger, wiping his board and netting myself something like a five-for-two in card advantage. I, of course, had been sandbagging some boom-booms, and he was unable to recover.
In Game 2, I drew something like four or five removal spells against him, and successfully raced his Viral Drake that couldn’t attack.
Round 7 vs. Sami Tuomi [FIN] 78th
Sami was an agreeable chap, and we swapped PTQ stories while shuffling up for our match. Turns he won something like a ten-man PTQ in Estonia. Jeez, and I thought Canadian PTQs were easy. I don’t remember too many details of our match. I know that in Game 1, I played all my Battle Cry men and burned him out with Slagstorm. Game 2, I got Heavy Arbalest going and killed all his men before going to the dome for the final points.
Made Day 2! AAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAH!
Getting the requisite two wins, I didn’t care if I lost my last match. Obviously I wanted to win, but I’d already made Day 2, so losing here wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Round 8 vs. Makihito Mihara [JPN] 73rd
My opponent had a R/B deck with some decent removal. Again, I apologize for the lack of details. I know he had a Bloodshot Trainee that I wanted to wheel because I remember either killing the Goblin or the equipment that was going to pump it. Looking at my score pad, his life total went 20, 18, 16, 12, 4, dead, so I must have had some boom-booms out at some point. Game 2, I played Vulshok Heartstoker with nothing to target, but missed a land drop to play Trigon of Rage and activate it the following turn. I settled for attacking for 2 and playing my Trigon post-combat. Makihito decided to take advantage of my mana-screw by playing a Victorious Destruction on one of my Mountains. I immediately drew two lands in a row. Ha! Take that! Blinding Souleater joined forces with my Vulshok Heartstoker and my Trigon of Rage to hit him for 15 over three turns. I had another one of my brain farts as on my last turn I drew my fifth land (or sixth if you count the one in my graveyard) to tap his blocker, attack him down to 3, and Volt Charge his face. The land I drew was my first Plains, so for some reason I tapped it so I wouldn’t lose 2 life to my Phyrexian tapper. I showed him the Volt Charge and he rightly pointed out that I only had 2 mana, so I had to pass the turn. Still at 3 life and facing a Volt Charge, he conceded when he didn’t draw some kind of miracle to get himself out of this situation.
Jesus Christ monkey balls, did I just 3–0 a draft at a Pro Tour? With a complete pile-of-poop deck? I told my friends the funny story of how I played like a donkey and still 3–0’d my pod and asked them if they knew who Makihito Mihara was.
“Uuuuuuhh . . . former world champion? The Dragonstorm guy?”
“Oh yeah, I thought he looked familiar. He was the guy I beat last round.”
I was in a particularly good mood, since I’d finally made Day 2 at a Pro Tour, so I wanted to go out for some sushi. We scoped out a Kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) place near the site, and I filled my belly with delicious, delicious sushi. As an aside, the kinds of sushi that we have in North America are pretty much the same in Japan, but Japan has stuff that we don’t have. Take it from this humble sushi-lover: If you love sushi, sushi in Japan isn’t going to blow your mind. Japanese people love mayonnaise a hell of a lot more than I do, and I’m of the opinion that hot-dog-and-ketchup sushi is an abomination. The wasabi is much better, since it’s the real thing and not that reconstituted crap in a tube. Once we got back to the hotel, I checked out the standings to find out who was going to be in my draft pod:
Draft Pod 2
|25||Florent, Lucas [FRA]||18||61.97%|
|26||Nesi, Eugenio [ITA]||18||61.97%|
|27||Turtenwald, Owen [USA]||18||61.45%|
|28||Marr, Mat [USA]||18||59.89%|
|29||Koestler, Jonas [DEU]||18||58.85%|
|30||Oever, Roy [NLD]||18||58.63%|
|31||Ketita, Nassim [CAN]||18||58.48%|
|32||Utter-Leyton, Josh [USA]||18||57.96%|
I see. Welcome to the big leagues! I made sure to get a decent amount of sleep, because I was going to need every edge I could get.
Got to the site with plenty of time to spare and got my game face on. I first-picked a Phyrexian Ingester, and then continued with my strategy of picking cards for my Constructed deck as I got passed a Volt Charge. I was pretty happy to grab an Artillerize after that, which cemented me in Red. I hadn’t yet committed to a second color, and had the feeling that Black was open since I got a very late Blind Zealot. Pack 2, I first-picked a Red Sun's Zenith over a Kuldotha Flamefiend, and got passed a Mortarpod followed by a Burn the Impure. I still didn’t see much of a reason to go into a second color, but I snatched up a Serum Raker to hedge my bets. Pack 3, I opened another Red rare, this time a Cerebral Eruption. I absolutely hate that card. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good card that you will almost always play, but I still hate it. Every time I have cast it in the past, I’ve always hit land or a 1-mana card. There was nothing much else in the pack worth taking over it, so I begrudgingly took it. The rest of the pack was strange, as I got a very late Grasp of Darkness that I took over nothing. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to play it, but it was nice to have in case the Black kept coming. As it turned out, I took almost all colorless or Red cards out of that pack. This is what I ended up with:
"Draft Deck 2"
- Creatures (13)
- 1 Blisterstick Shaman
- 1 Bloodshot Trainee
- 1 Mirran Spy
- 1 Ogre Resister
- 1 Oxidda Daredevil
- 1 Phyrexian Ingester
- 1 Serum Raker
- 1 Vulshok Heartstoker
- 1 Kiln Walker
- 1 Phyrexian Hulk
- 1 Soliton
- 1 Spin Engine
- 1 Spined Thopter
- Spells (10)
- 1 Artillerize
- 1 Burn the Impure
- 1 Volt Charge
- 1 Cerebral Eruption
- 1 Red Sun's Zenith
- 1 Darksteel Axe
- 1 Flayer Husk
- 1 Livewire Lash
- 1 Mortarpod
- 1 Mycosynth Wellspring
The deck is almost mono-Red, and I wanted to be aggressive, hence the random 2- and 3-drops. My plan was to get in some early damage, then burn them out with Cerebral Eruption/Red Sun's Zenith/Artillerize.
Round 9 vs. Lucas Florent [FRA] 44th
In his report, Lucas called my deck U/R Last Picks. I guess that’s fair, since my deck is full of durdles. Lucas had a powerful G/B/u deck with lots of good cards including Trigon of Corruption and Throne of Geth. Game 1 was a drawn-out affair: I killed his guys, he killed my guys, and we both got in some big attacks. When the dust settled, I was at 1 life with nothing in play or in hand, and he was at 4 life with a creature in play. I drew a creature to chump-block and hoped he didn’t have a removal spell. I successfully bought myself another turn and looked at the top card of my deck: Cerebral Eruption. What happened in my head was a reliving of the scene in Major League where David Palmer renounces his voodoo god to finally hit a curveball. I shrug my shoulders, tap 4 mana and play my rare, exclaiming “ONE TIIIIIIIIME!!!!” rather loudly. Lucas nervously revealed the top card of his deck: Scourge Servant. Better lucky than good, I suppose. Forget everything I said about Cerebral Eruption. I love it now. I apologized to my opponent for my overexuberance, and we shuffled up for the next game. Lucas put me on the play, and I basically nut-drew him. Turn one MY AXE, turn two Spined Thopter, turn three attack for 4, and the hits just kept coming from there. Lucas was never really in it, and before I knew it, I had won my eighth straight game in NMS limited. Still a ways to go.
Round 10 vs. Josh Utter-Leyton [USA] 26th
Josh had just defeated Owen Turtenwald in a feature match, and I knew that he was U/R, but didn’t watch long enough to see what was in his deck. When I sat across from him I told him:
“I promise I wasn’t watching your feature
Game 1, I got him pretty good with Cerebral Eruption and was able to close it out due to a combination of big attacks and burn. He tried to get back into the game with a Tormenter Exarch, but I domed him with an Artillerize in response to bring him down to 2 life. My remaining creatures were enough to finish him off.
Game 2, @wrapter started with a pre-game Chancellor of the Spires, which milled away six lands, getting even the otherwise silent ChannelFireballer to emit an audible gasp. I had a decent start, even getting to kill his team with a Cerebral Eruption, but I wasn’t able to stop him from reaching 7 mana to play his Dragon. He cast Cerebral Eruption out of my graveyard, and despite my hope that my top card was a land, I instead revealed a Burn the Impure, which was enough to clear my board. I drew my blank and passed the turn back, taking 5 from the Chancellor. I drew another blank and shipped the turn back, only to have Flameborn Hellion join the party and attack me down to 3. @wrapter played a post-combat Razor Swine, and immediately realized his error. I played my Burn the Impure at end of turn, putting him at 3 life and giving me outs to steal the game. Unfortunately, I drew another blank and we shuffled up for Game 3.
In the final game, I played a turn-three Spin Engine, put a Livewire Lash on it, and went to town. The Engine got in for 10 points, and he insta-scooped when Cerebral Eruption revealed Flameborn Hellion.
I was pretty incredulous that I had thus far gone 5–0 in the draft. I sought my Canadian comrades and told anyone who would listen the tale of how I just beat @wrapter to go 2–0 in my pod. I came across Matthias Hunt and told him about the crazy pod I was in, to which he responded, “My friend who I’m rooming with is in your pod, do you want to talk to him to find out what’s in your opponent’s deck?”
“Uuuuuuhmmm . . . YES!?!”
He was referring to Mat Marr, who had just lost to the only other 2–0. We walked over and Mat spilled the beans on everything his opponent had. Bomb upon bomb upon bomb was in his deck. Mat also mentioned that he was playing Tainted Strike, so I kept that in mind. As with the last draft, I was fine with going 2–1. Going 5–1 in Limited at a Pro Tour is still a great showing. That said, my best chance to win was to just kill him before he could get his bombs online.
Round 11 vs. Roy Oever [NLD] 34th
I chatted with my opponent about Amsterdam, seeing as he was Dutch. He also told me the pretty sick story of how he won his January 1 PTQ while hung over. Roy opened on Copperline Gorge, which drew a snide comment on my part. “This is Draft, right? Not Constructed?” He was stuck on two lands, but had a Death-Hood Cobra holding me at bay. I built up a small attack force including a Germ token equipped with Flayer Husk and MY AXE, an Ogre Resister, and some durdle. He blocked my Ogre, and played Leeching Bite to pump his Cobra and kill my Germ token. I was totally fine with this trade, as he had basically nothing and I still had more men to carry MY AXE. Don’t quite remember how I closed out the game, but I think it may have involved a Bloodshot Trainee cleaning up.
I don’t have great notes for Game 2, but I remember that I took a couple hits from a Flesh-Eater Imp before shooting it down with a Burn the Impure. He binned his guy and took 3. Yes, that actually happened. On his last turn to live, he attacked me with a non-Infect fatty. Using my information gleaned before from my new best friend, Mat Marr, I chump-blocked with an otherwise useless Kiln Walker that had two -1/-1 counters on it, despite being at 20 life. His route to victory blocked, my opponent extended his hand. Granted, I knew he had Tainted Strike, but even without that knowledge, I’d like to think that I still would have made that block. That Kiln Fiend wasn’t doing anything, and the only way I could possibly have lost is if he hit me for 6 poison.
If you’d told me a week before the Pro Tour that I was going to 6–0 Limited, I’d probably punch you in the face and call you a liar. Yet somehow, there I was, poised to make a run at Top 8. I basically just needed to 3–1 to make it. No problem, just like Top 8’ing a GPT. Except that this GPT has some of the best Magic players in the world.
Round 12 vs. Yong Han Choo [SGP] 14th
The name looked familiar, but I didn’t recognize him at the time. Yong Top 8’d PT: Hollywood a little while ago. He was on some sort of Bant Sphinx concoction. Game 1, I came out of the gates with a Kuldotha Phoenix, which got a couple of hits in before dying. I was intending to rebuy it, so I didn’t attack with either of my two Inkmoth Nexuses for fear of losing one to a removal spell. Yong blew up my artifacts with a Creeping Corrosion. And by artifacts, I mean my lone Sphere of the Suns. My option to rebuy my Phoenix no longer there, I started pecking at him with Nexuses (Nexii?). He followed up with Elspeth Tirel, and suddenly it was a race. I kicked myself for missing an attack with my man lands, as I was able to get him to 9 poison before I died.
Game 2, I opened with Shrine of Burning Rage, and his expression led me to believe that he’d boarded out his Steel Sabotages. Either Koth or Phoenix killed him at that point, as my score pad has him going from 20 to dead in 4-life increments.
I felt kind of bad about that loss, as I should have been able to win Game 1. I didn’t think it was actually possible to poison someone with this deck, since it didn’t come up once in testing. I didn’t recognize Nexus beats as a legitimate route to victory until it was too late, and the missed attack ended up costing me the match. That’s the way things go sometimes. Still plenty of Magic to play.
Round 13 vs. Ben Stark [USA] 17th
Well, I’m sure this opponent needs no introduction. Sitting next to me was my friend and partner in Nagoyan shenanigans, Pascal Maynard, who was paired against Luis Scott-Vargas. I asked them if they wanted to play Two-Headed Giant, Team Canada vs. Team ChannelFireball. They sounded pretty stoked about the
Game 1, Ben had a bit of a slow start and I wiped his board with a Slagstorm on turn three to make way for Koth of the Hammer. He offered no resistance, and Volt Charge on turn five meant this was going to be a quick game. Ben didn’t want to play it out, so we shuffled up for Game 2. This time, the PT: Paris champion had the dreaded double Tempered Steel draw. I took a hit from a gigantic Inkmoth Nexus and did my best to stay alive, but I couldn’t ever tap out, or I’d be dead to a second hit from his man land. I was just too far behind to mount a comeback, so we briskly moved on to our third game. For Game 3, Ben drew all his sideboard cards, so my Rack and Ruin plan was less effective. I tried to Red Sun's Zenith his Indomitable Archangel, but he responded with a Mutagenic Growth. Did not see that one coming. He followed up with an Elspeth Tirel that I was unable to deal with. He even played a second Mutagenic Growth to make his last attack lethal.
I guess I can’t be upset losing to the guy who won the previous Pro Tour. I feel like I should have been able to beat him if my draws had been a little bit better, or his a little bit worse. I’ll get you next time, Ben Stark! NEXT TIME!
Round 14 vs. Lukas Jaklovsky [CZE] 16th
Ok, this is getting somewhat ridiculous. This was my third match in a row where I had to battle someone with a PT Top 8. I realize this is the big show, but it’d be nice to not have to face a stone master every round. Lukas was playing U/B Tezzeret and basically crushed me. I kept a two-land Shrine hand in one of the games, which got promptly Steel Sabotaged while I failed to draw land for several turns.
These past three rounds, my deck had been literally falling apart. Yes, I mean literally. I was losing something like four to five sleeves per game, damaging the cards in the process. This mirrored my now-dashed hopes of Top 8’ing. It would be nice to not have to play someone with a PT Top 8 in my next round.
Round 15 vs. Martin Lindstroem [SWE] 71st
Well, I did say a PT Top 8, so I guess I can’t complain if my opponent has a mere GP Top 4. Martin had some sort of Birthing Pod/Grand Architect concoction. Game 1, my opponent played three Treasure Mages, getting Wurmcoil Engine, Mindslaver, and Spine of Ish Sah, but never had the opportunity to cast them as he died before hitting 6 mana. Game 2, he surprised me with sideboarded Neurok Commandos, and I was soon buried under a tsunami (too soon?) of card advantage. For Game 3, I had one of my trademark brain farts and accidentally drew seven cards after I mulliganed. We called a judge over and he ruled that I’d have to randomly take two cards from my hand to shuffle into my deck, and let me choose if I want to mulligan to four. I was 100% fine with this, as my hand was four land, triple Sphere. On six cards, I was going to mulligan anyway, and I can’t ask for a better hand on five. I drew either Koth or Phoenix, as my opponent once again died in 4-life chunks.
Round 16 vs. Shou Yoshimori [JPN] 30th
I looked at the standings and decided I wanted to draw into Top 50 rather than take a chance for a few hundred dollars and the risk that a loss would drop me below fiftieth. It turns out that I was locked for Top 50 even with a loss, but I don’t regret taking the draw. I have a fairly risk-averse personality (a strange characteristic for a Magic player, I know) and wanted to go with the safer option. Also, I was pretty sick of losing and wasn’t all that confident in playing another match out. My opponent agreed to the draw, so I congratulated him for making Top 50 and wished him luck in Philadelphia.
While it’s a little disappointing to lose three straight matches to miss Top 8, I definitely exceeded my expectations. This only means that I’ll be hungry to improve on my performance at PT: Philly. I hope you guys enjoyed my first article here at Gathering Magic, and please feel free to leave me a comment below.
Until next time,